College of LAS « Illinois

Computational Biology

Researchers Create Simulated Virus


University of Illinois researchers in the College of LAS have created life—simulated life, that is. Computational biologists at the U. of I., working with the University of California at Irvine, have created the first computer simulation of an entire life form, a virus.

Specifically, they have created a simulated "satellite tobacco mosaic" virus (at right) because of its simplicity and small size. Simulated viruses can increase the understanding of how they work, which in turn can improve efforts to combat them.

"It may still take a long time to simulate a dog wagging its tail in the computer," says Klaus Schulten, a chemist and Swanlund Professor of Physics at U. of I. "But a big first step has been taken to ‘test fly' living organisms."

Fall/Winter 2006–07